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August 18 2010
Anyone that has had to go into my garage, or seen into it from the street when the door is open can be forgiven for thinking that I've been setting myself up for participation in that reality television show about hoarders. This month it got to the point where it was impossible to get to the electrical panel to turn off the water heater breaker without tripping on bottles and cans or risking triggering an avalanche of enough cardboard to cause serious bodily injury, or possibly even death. At the beginning of the month I had a 10-day vacation, a good portion of which I had hoped to spend in the studio working diligently on my painting, but I ended up spending what spare time I did have starting a major clean-up of the garage instead. It was really impossible to put it off any longer.

In fairness, I should explain that my studio is at our home on "the Island", but we live in "the City" during the week in order to earn our living. So my time in the studio is severely limited to two days a week at best and I've rationalized that I can't be using that valuable time dealing with returning recyclable beverage containers or flattening and bundling cardboard boxes which packaged all the things we've had to buy for the house over the past seven years. And besides, I really didn't know what to do with those great chunks of bead board padding inside those boxes. So they piled up in the garage.

But a recent piece in the newspaper got me worried. Apparently, the psychiatric community is currently debating the merits of declaring the practice of hoarding not just an eccentricity, but an official mental illness. It probably helps your reputation as an artist to be considered eccentric, and in fact, that is almost an expectation, but being mad may push the limits of some people's tolerance. However, my self-esteem was rescued by a theory offered by Clint Watson in his Fine Art View blog this week. He maintains that great artists should procrastinate on chores that interfere with the inspired creative process. Priority should ALWAYS be given to tasks that are likely to be mentioned in your obituary. Returning beer cans does not qualify. So now I'm facing a dilemma. With the garage cleaned out, should I try to clear out my bottles and cans consistently, shielding me from a mental illness diagnosis but cutting into my valuable time at the easel, or should I stop drinking? I have a feeling I'm going to be facing another major clean-up in 4 or 5 years.
Posted by Peter Kiidumae at 12:09 4 Comments